I have some new friends from a “personality type” forum I’ve been posting with. There is a new person on the forum from India, who is young and very sweet, who surprised me yesterday.
He told me that he didn’t understand this ‘toasted marshmallow’ I referred to. It kind of took me aback. I am usually very interested in other cultures, and didn’t realize, for some reason, that roasting a marshmallow might be a very American thing to do. It made me remember, yet again, that there are things we take for granted that might not be understood by people from other cultures.
Maybe toasting marshmallows is an American custom? I never thought about it, but I certainly do think that toasting marshmallows is as American as… well apple pie.
I’ve thought a lot about different cultures through the years, and the amazing strength it takes someone to move across the world to set up a new life here. I have a hard enough time moving across the country… because even in America, cultures are different, the way one talks, and what one talks about are very different. For example, Detroit and Michigan has a rather sarcastic, negative humor that we’re all used to (and everyone gets), while in Minnesota, where I live now, the humor is much more upbeat, and the dry sarcastic humor doesn’t go over as well.
So, if those are differences just between different states that are relatively close together, can you imagine uprooting everything you know and moving to another country? People would seem so different, stores are different, driving and government are different, and in many cases, the language itself is different!
America wouldn’t be the land it is, if it weren’t for the immigration of ancestors past. Today, when we say we are a ‘mutt,’ what we are really saying, is that a long time ago in our family trees, someone from Germany immigrated here, someone from Ireland immigrated here, etc, etc.
And not only do immigrants have to learn everything above, but they are also adapting to entirely new social mores. Women may not have the same equality in other cultures, or, on the other side of the fence, women may have more equality in other cultures than ours allows for. It’s fascinating!
So, if you’re having difficulty relating to someone who has immigrated over here, have patience with yourself and with them. So many people get so frustrated when people don’t speak English well, or with a thick accent. Show them that America IS the land of immigration, and acceptance, and show them the best you can of this new country they have made their home.
It took a lot of courage for them to take this step, whether they were from an industrialized country or not. Their hope was that America would provide a better life for themselves and their family.
Set judgment aside, and see our newer immigrants with the kindness and generosity of spirit that helps America to be the best of what it is.